The Steel Helmet (1951)

“Dead man’s nothin’ but a corpse. No one cares what he is now.” – Sergeant Zack

Number of Times Seen – 1 (7 Oct 2018)

Brief Synopsis – A platoon of American soldiers must fight off overwhelming Korean forces during the early days of the Korean War.

My Take on it – This is a film that I heard about a few weeks back and was interested in seeing how they would present the brutal effects of soldiers during the course of battle in the Korean War.

Looking at this film from today’s perspective, it looks quite mild and even in some ways silly yet I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear that it was much more intriguing for moviegoers to watch it when it came out because they didn’t quite know what to expect from a war movie like this.

This looks and feels like a typical war movie of the era that is filled with stock characters who all play their roles as stereotypes.

They are all one dimensional and they don’t take any time trying to develop any of them along the way which in turn makes the viewer not care what will happen to any of them.

For me, the best part of this film is the fact that it has a young Asian kid named Short Round (see Trivia section #2 below) which at least made me think of a much better action film featuring a character with that same name.

Bottom Line – Probably was much better received when it came out, but it feels too much like a typical war film filled with stereotypes that doesn’t really bring anything unique to the story. The cast is ok but none of the characters are develop beyond a superficial level so there isn’t much reason to care about them at all. The best part of this film is the fact that there’s a little Asian kid named Short Round (see Trivia section #2 below) because it made me think of a much better film with a character with that unique name.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia #1 – Right after “The Steel Helmet” was finished, Sam Fuller was flush with money. During a Christmas party at his house, invited guest Gene Evans was certain he’d get something valuable. He was initially disappointed though that all he was given was the steel helmet with a bullet hole in it from the movie. Decades later Arthur Knight staged a retrospective of Fuller’s work at USC. Evans was invited to attend as a surprise guest unknown to Fuller. The two old friends had not seen each other for ten or fifteen years at that point. When Evans returned the helmet to Fuller, the director was very touched.and so moved that he couldn’t even talk. (From IMDB)

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia #2 – The young boy in the film nicknamed “Short Round” was reportedly Steven Spielberg’s inspiration for the character by the same name in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy (5/10)


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2 thoughts on “The Steel Helmet (1951)

  1. I think we saw two different movies. Granted, you’re very right about the parts of this movie which fit the “supermarket ground beef” recipe for formulaic war movie, but those one-dimensional characters are perfect for Fuller’s dissection of race in America. It starts with the Short Round “don’t call me a gook” scene and branches out from there. Do yourself a favor. Go back and re-watch this movie and forget it’s a war movie. Forget whatever your own ideas of what race relations in America were like in 1950, and look at this film with the idea that Fuller is pushing the envelope on what he thinks he can get way with in terms of pointed social commentary at the time this film is made. You might just see it very differently.


  2. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1951 | MovieRob

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